The recession hit many young college graduates especially hard as they were left wondering how and why their anticipated careers and dreams could have vanished so prematurely. Yet, there are also shining examples of how today’s graduates are adapting to this new digitally-driven landscape and laying out the foundation for the future of business.
Before starting Conversations, LLC, a New Orleans-based social media strategy company, founder Megan Hargroder (pictured) was just a young 2008 broadcast journalism graduate from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She assumed that her lengthy resume, which included managing the school newspaper and working as a full-time reporter at a local FOX affiliate, would land her a great job after graduation.
But life didn’t turn out as planned, forcing Hargroder to take random jobs to pay the bills, including an assistant position where she made hair appointments, wrote thank-you letters, and poured endless cups of coffee. “I needed a lesson in how to be humble, and that was that job taught me,” Hargroder says.
With little money in her pocket, a desire to learn yoga, and years of using Facebook and other social media tools for personal interests, Hargroder one day decided to see if she could make the technology that she had worked with in recent years pay off in more than retweets.
“I wanted to practice yoga, but I couldn’t afford to go 3 or 4 times a week, so that’s when I bartered with the studio owner,” Hargroder says. “I’d manage their social media accounts in exchange for free membership.”
However, instead of simply seeing how many followers she could collect, Hargroder used the studio’s accounts as though they were her personal ones (without getting too personal), building strong bonds and connections with potential clients.
“I kept up with people and did simple things such as congratulating followers on a job interview and telling them to just take a deep breath,” Hargroder says. “I basically took how a yoga studio is supposed to be, and put it into the social media realm, which is uplifting, inspirational, reaching out, being helpful, offering advice.”
Soon after taking control of the studio’s social media accounts, the business that once staggered to get stressed-out individuals onto the yoga mats quickly made an astounding turnaround, and one evening the owner frantically called Hargroder because she was upset that she had to turn people away after a class became overcrowded. That’s when the broadcast journalism major knew that she had found her way.
“The foundation of my company is interaction based, not direct marketing where you tell people what they want,” Hargroder says. “You talk to the people, give what you have to give, listen to what they say, and you make the necessary changes in whatever you’re doing to accommodate the buyer”
Today, Conversations LLC has more than a dozen clients, and Hargroder recently hired her first assistant (that gets to do more than fetching bagels) and even traveled to New York City to speak to college media students about her company and how they can still make it beyond campus.